By Peter Funt
A third grade teacher once wrote on my report card, “Peter is extremely average.” Accurate though the critique might have been, my parents and I felt it was a bit harsh.
Years later, the Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic for The Washington Post, Tom Shales, wrote of me: “He may be a bundle of Funt, but he’s no bundle of fun.” Deft as the turn of phrase might have been, my wife and I felt it was somewhat mean-spirited.
Those were the worst professional evaluations I’d ever received until this month, when something far more devastating than a bad report card or a nasty newspaper review came via email from the Yahoo company. It was from the office of the Fantasy Football Commissioner.
This remarkable document, titled “Peter’s Team Draft Report Card,” graded my performance in a 10-person online fantasy football draft – an event that followed weeks of study on my part, was conducted with stacks of notes and charts spread before me, and went on for roughly 90 minutes during which my heart noticeably palpitated every time I was “on the clock.”
My grade was “C,” which seemed ok, until I realized it was the lowest grade issued. The report declared my team as the one “others will want to play.”
Is it possible that Tom Shales now writes for Yahoo? Regarding one of my late-round selections, the Los Angeles Rams rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the report card said: “Let’s hope that (a) Peter’s Team has some solid inside information, or (b) he’s a close friend of the family.” Ouch.
I’ll say this about Yahoo’s crack team of draft evaluators, they don’t allow the fact that you’re a paying customer – twenty dollars in my case – to temper their scorn. “Fortunately, there’s always next year,” they wrote, before even a single NFL game had been played.
Adding insult to insult: “Let this mediocre draft inspire you to always do better.”
Other than a quip from a cocktail waitress in Denver following a one-night stand I had with her in college, that was the lamest attempt at inspiration I’ve ever heard.
After brutalizing me, the Yahoo people closed by suggesting: “Nominate yourself for the Toyota Hall of Fame,” a fake honor in a fake sport, run by a Yahoo sponsor. I might win a “one-of-a-kind bronze bust to forever immortalize the triumphant.”
It was an audacious suggestion to be sure, since my report card predicted I’d be lucky to win a single game, and the Hall of Fame requires an undefeated season as just the first step toward immortality.
Since I was already torn about doing fantasy football this year in light of the data about injuries to NFL players, I needed this from Yahoo like, say, a kick in the head.
Well, let me respond to my evaluator this way: Marketwatch calls Yahoo a “$30 billion ‘company’ that does nothing.” Plus: Cooper Kupp scored a touchdown in his first game, prompting ESPN to state that he “wasted no time in proving his value.”
Also: I don’t think you’re even a real person. I think you’re some kind of poorly-programmed bot that gets its jollies by sliming well-meaning fantasy football fans. I won’t finish in last place! At worst, I’ll be extremely average, and proud of it.